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Ask Tuffy – Opening Day Sunday, April 1, 2007

Posted by Tuffy in ask tuffy, baseball, tuffy.


Welcome to a new feature where I assist the needy and oblivious for cash and prizes! This one’s from the archives, but I welcome your questions as well.

“Dear Tuffy,

How do I know if the boy I like likes me back? When should I let him go to second base?



This topic still roils debate for all ages. Superstitions and traditions abound. “Wait until the third date to score.” “Good girls don’t do that.” “I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom.”

Normally, I wouldn’t tackle such a difficult topic in this limited space. However, no one has cast a truly analytical eye to the issue.

(Also, things are pretty dead around here on Sundays.)

With Opening Day a few hours away, this seems the perfect time to address this vexing issue. Using the performance analysis tools that brought us “Moneyball”, the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox, and conniption fits by Joe Morgan, I will demonstrate when a girl should let a boy head to second with a face-first slide (previously shown to be less likely to lead to injury than other slides).


Pathetic, I shall make a few assumptions about the current state of your base paths. For one, I shall assume the boy is at first base with no other baserunners. (Honey, if you’re listening to Earl Weaver and trying for a three-run homer, you really don’t need my advice.)

I also discount pickoff attempts at first; while it is far more devastating for the boy to be gunned down before even trying to get to second, this occurrence does not happen enough to affect our results. Usually, this kind of runner doesn’t even make it to first. (I’m looking at you, buddy.)

Finally, I assume you will not let every baserunner waltz over to second base every time but will instead make them earn it by stealing second. You won’t last long in this league if you let boys walk all over you.

Therefore, I am now analyzing when the boy should try to steal second and how often he should be successful with you. Get in your crouch; we’re finally ready to go.

The Boy – Stolen Bases

Careful study of the scoring-expectation tables from recent years shows that a boy on first with no outs on him can expect to score 0.9116 times on average. Moving to second seals the deal, scoring 1.1811 times on average. (Yes, some double-dipping is implied here.)

If the boy makes an out with you, his ability to score from first drops dramatically to 0.5348 times on average; stealing second increases the average to 0.7125 times. With two outs on him while standing at first, he can pretty much ask for the check and head back to Spectravision; he’ll only score 0.2349 times on average. Stealing a base doesn’t help a lot (0.3407 times on average) and reeks of desperation.

However, being gunned down on the way to second kills any chance at a big inning. Using the numbers above and factoring in other variables (game situations, alcohol consumption, etc.), a boy needs to steal second more than 75% of the time to consider his investment a success. Otherwise, he’s just a rally-killer waiting to happen. If this boy is in your social circle, give him his outright release.

The Girl – Stolen Bases

To come back to the main question, when do you know it’s alright for the boy to steal second on you? For the girl, it’s much more difficult to tell. You must use a blend of performance analysis and scouting to determine the right player at the right time.

It’s very important to not get caught up in scouting alone. If you let him get to first because you scouted him at the bar and he really filled out his uniform nicely, you could be in serious trouble. (Didn’t you learn anything from the second-most homoerotic movie of the 1980s?) You could be making the same mistake as millions of girls before you: you’ve examined the player’s tools without finding out if he can use them in the big leagues.

You need to dig deeper into his numbers to find out what his skills truly are. Even this can be tricky, though; his superficial numbers in the minors might show the ability to handle a bat, but he might have just stumbled into sorority row and inflated his numbers artificially.

VOR(P) and I(P)P

You should study two numbers specifically: VOR(P) and I(P)P. VORP stands for “Value Over Replacement (P)”. The last P…hmm, stands for Property. If you can pick up this guy any Thursday night at the Cadillac Ranch, he should be considered a Replacement Property player. That is your baseline. You should wait for someone with a high Value Over Replacement Property to invest your time in.

I(P)P is “Isolated (P) Power”. Where VORP is a great tool for established players, it’s more difficult to see potential in younger players. One of the best indicators of future success relies on removing all the statistical noise and concentrating on just how much raw power the boy brings to the plate. To find the best young talent, you must be down with I(P)P.

Neither of these numbers can be found on the back of his baseball card, but they’re worth digging up to make sure you’ve found a boy whose uniform you should get dirty.

Scouting Benefits

Don’t discount scouting entirely, though. The boy may bring a seriously hardcore bat to the plate, but he might also use that same bat to beat teenage sausages or become the next Steve Garvey, planting his seed all over our great land. If all the numbers say yes, but he hangs out with Lou Canellis or Rob Lowe on road trips, you should definitely pray for rain.


You must consider the entire package when letting a boy move closer to scoring. Analysis of his numbers and his makeup should supercede any urge you have to allow just anyone to circle the bases.

If he does make the cut and you come out of your crouch just a little too slowly to stop him from getting to second, remember the words of Ernie Banks: “Let’s play (with) two!



1. Elric VIII Emperor of Melnibone - Sunday, April 1, 2007

Great analysis.

Also, one should note that it would be much easier to take second if Pathetic’s delivery is too deliberate and slow; if she takes too long, any Tom, Dick or Molina is going to be able to steal second.

She can head this off with a deceptively long pause before the delivery, as it will confuse the runner. She’ll keep him off balance and keep his lead honest. Stepping off is always an option if she senses he’s about to make a move. And never forget that a good slide step can confound even the most seasoned baserunner.

2. Ron - Sunday, April 1, 2007


If you’re interested in the offer I made last night, shoot me an email.

3. cdnmoose - Sunday, April 1, 2007


Based on Tuffy’s subject for the day, you may want to re-phrase your statement.

I’m not judging, I’m just saying…

4. Holly - Sunday, April 1, 2007


5. Greek McPapadopoulos - Sunday, April 1, 2007

So, they’re letting ethnics play these days?

6. SA - Sunday, April 1, 2007

I’m liking these “Ask Tuffy” features already.

7. Philistine - Sunday, April 1, 2007

And never, ever, miss a sign.

8. racistmascot_inc - Sunday, April 1, 2007

From this analysis, I gather that Victor Martinez is a manslut?

9. Tuffy - Sunday, April 1, 2007

Greek McPapadopoulos: Ryne Sandberg is a legacy player; his grandfather Carl got him in. Nothing to be done about it, really.

racistmascot_inc: Victor Martinez couldn’t keep anyone off second with a shotgun and a megaphone. You’ve pegged him nicely.

Elric: If it’s the electric slide, either leave the bar screaming or try to pick up a bridesmaid.

10. Holly - Sunday, April 1, 2007

If it’s the electric slide, leave the bar screaming and try to pick up a bridesmaid on your way out.


11. Yostal - Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tuffy, your wisdom is an inspiration to all. Keep up the good work.

12. Top Posts « WordPress.com - Sunday, April 1, 2007

[…] Ask Tuffy – Opening Day [image] Welcome to a new feature where I assist the needy and oblivious for cash and prizes!  This one’s from […] […]

13. steve - Sunday, April 1, 2007

Although a detailed analysis, I can’t help but wonder how the OPP stat plays into this.

14. Tuffy - Sunday, April 1, 2007

It’s all about the IPP.

15. Greek McPapadopoulos - Sunday, April 1, 2007

Wow, awesome message from “Top Posts”!

16. lulu - Monday, April 2, 2007


17. steve - Monday, April 2, 2007

For the next “Ask Tuffy”:

The third strike (swinging, of course) was dropped and I only got to first because the catcher wasn’t paying attention. How does this affect my batting average, and do you think I’ll be able to steal second?

18. Coll B. Lue - Monday, April 2, 2007

An interesting outlook and one which was enjoyable to read – Go, man, go!

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